- The Atkins Diet aims to promote weight loss by restricting carb intake.
- While useful for some, the Atkins Diet is not suitable for everyone.
- Cutting on carbs has several side effects, including mental fatigue and digestive issues.
The Atkins Diet is an eating plan that restricts carbohydrates while highlighting protein and fats to help with weight loss and provide a healthy, sustainable eating approach. It claims that the typical low-fat, high-carbohydrate American diet increases the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
According to Atkins Diet proponents, controlling carbs and eating more protein and fat is essential for healthy weight loss. It also encourages eating high fiber vegetables, using small amounts of salt, and taking vitamins or supplements.
The Atkins Diet involves tracking your carbs through a system called net carbs, which is the total carbohydrate content of food minus its fiber content. This approach is supposed to burn off your body’s fat stores and regulate your blood sugar while keeping you feel satiated. When you reach your goal weight, the diet also aims to help you identify how much carbs you can eat each day without gaining or losing weight.
The Atkins Diet doesn’t consider exercise a tool for weight loss, but it can help maintain your weight.
Phases of the Atkins Diet
The Atkins Diet has four phases, and you can start at any of the first three phases, depending on your weight-loss goals.
- Phase 1: Induction.
- You must only eat 20 grams of net carbs a day in this phase, mainly from vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, celery, cucumber, green beans, and peppers.
- You can eat protein, oils, and fats, but most fruits, sugary baked goods, bread, pasta, grains, nuts, or alcohol are restricted.
- Staying hydrated is crucial.
- This phase usually lasts for two weeks.
- Phase 2: Balancing.
- The carbs and added sugar restriction in phase 1 are continued in this phase.
- You can eat some nutrient-rich carbs, like vegetables and berries, nuts, and seeds, as you continue to lose weight.
- You do this until you’re about 10 lbs from your goal weight.
- Phase 3: Pre-maintenance.
- You can slowly include fruits, starchy vegetables, and whole grains in your diet in this phase and eat about 10 grams of additional carbs each week.
- You do this until you achieve your goal weight.
- Phase 4: Lifetime maintenance.
- This phase is when you reach your goal weight, which you continue to do for the rest of your life.
According to the Atkins Diet, you can lose as much as 15 lbs in the first two weeks of phase 1 and continue losing weight in phases 2 and 3 as long as you limit your carb intake.
According to some studies, other reasons for weight loss with the Atkins Diet include limited food choices and eating less because the extra protein and fat keep you full.
The Atkins Diet claims it can prevent or improve health conditions like metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. However, no significant studies show whether such benefits last long or increase your lifespan.
Some health experts, meanwhile, believe that consuming too much animal fat and protein, as allowed on the Atkins Diet, increases your heart disease risk or some cancers. However, more studies are needed for this.
Cutting carbs can result in some side effects, including:
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Insufficient fiber
- Mental fatigue
- Bad Breath
If you have severe health conditions, talk to your doctor before starting any diet.
Source: Mayo Clinic